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Tipping point

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If you need a brief break from all things coronavirus, here are some tips about entertainment diversions you might take advantage of. 

Book tip

Providence

Max Barry

We've all enjoyed — and possibly had our share of — sci fi novels or films where an astronaut is lost "out there." In fact, I'm pretty sure there are only 11 outer space books or movies that DON'T revolved around that concept. So it was with a resigned sigh that I opened Barry's latest title, "Providence," which is about four astronauts in the near future. They're the the crew piloting the giant, titular battleship roaring through the far reaches of space, battling alien enemies called "salamanders." Each of the four crew members is tasked with a different job. Jackson is the captain and strategist and Beanfield is the "life" expert targeted with maintaining morale and sanity. They're female. The men are Anders, the weapons dude, and Gilly, the computer wizard who safeguards an incredibly complex ship run entirely by AI. When Providence loses all contact with earth and enters unknown reaches of space and the ship starts to exhibit spooky and uncanny behaviors and capabilities, the tension mounts as we realize the Providence might have a mind of its own. Barry is a master of keeping the technology intriguing and digestible, and this seductive study of four flawed but (mostly) likeable characters interacting during isolation and wartime is a fine read.

— Rick Koster

DVD tip

Bombshell

I had resisted seeing this drama; after all, did I really want to watch a movie about sexual harassment at Fox News? But "Bombshell" is really good, both thought-provoking and entertaining, and its message about standing up for what's right is powerful. While the script by Charles Randolph and the direction by Jay Roach are both quite good, what makes "Bombshell" work so well is Charlize Theron's performance as Megyn Kelly, the Fox News star whose accusations of sexual harassment against boss Roger Ailes finally brought him down. Theron looks remarkably like Kelly (the makeup effects are amazing), but the actress also channels Kelly's flintiness while also finding the humanity underneath.

— Kristina Dorsey

CD tip

Chants From Another Place

 Jonathan Hultén

If you know Hultén at all, it's probably from his years as the guitarist/songwriter in the occult/black metal band Tribulation. But throw that out the window. "Chants From Another Place" is a stark, acoustic exercise with icily beautiful melodies and eerie harmonies. If Simon & Garfunkel had been born in Sweden, north of the Arctic Circle, and attended kindergarten with Sand Snowman and Jose Gonzalez — and never heard of Bob Dylan or the Everly Brothers but, you betcha, they loved their country's devil music — well, this is what might have happened. Gentle, eerie, haunting ... perfect lullabies for this plague of ours.

— Rick Koster

 

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